Monday, November 21, 2011

After Pit (or Trench) Composting and thoughts about Solarization


Solarizing my Winter Garden after Composting

I am a fan of pit (or trench) composting because it does not make the area look ugly and because it is so easy. Just throw things in a hole, rotate them often, then keep adding things until you get soil that is good enough to plant in. It turned out to not be too easy or disease-free. Though- if you are trying this kind of method I would recommend starting with a whole season of squash vines and mustard greens before planting anything else. Squash vines because they don’t care if the pile is still hot and mustard greens (brassica juncea) to resist disease.

After several partially successful sessions of solarizing soils I have come to the conclusion that there are better disease management possibilities including using a cover crop. One recently growing area of study is biofumigants such as one species of mustard greens (brassica juncea). This involves using various part of the mustard green in greatly reducing a disease until it reaches controllable levels. My current winter garden, with  just a small group of mustard plants is demonstrating a very significant difference in how well my plants are growing. I was afraid I was going to lose some of my artichokes but growing mustard around them has completely subsided my reoccurring septoria! An analysis by the U of A Extension program gives a good overview of what is being learned in this new and exciting field of biofumagation research.
Mustard Greens fighting my Septoria. Go Mustard Greens!



 

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